Godzilla vs. Kong producer Legendary Pictures is seeking at least $250 million for AT&T-owned WarnerMedia to send the monster movie to the HBO Max streaming service, according to a new report. Last month, Netflix reportedly offered more than $200 million to send the five-times-delayed MonsterVerse sequel to its streaming service, but that deal was blocked by WarnerMedia. Days later, the Warner Bros. parent company announced it would send the studio's entire 17-movie slate — including Dune and The Suicide Squad, as well as Godzilla vs. Kong — to HBO Max on the same day they open in theaters under a one-year hybrid release model.
Almost immediately, it was reported Legendary — which financed 75% of both Godzilla vs. Kong and Denis Villeneuve's star-studded Dune — was considering legal action over WarnerMedia's unilateral decision to send the two potential moneymakers to streaming. Industry trades reported Legendary was also not informed about the hybrid model release strategy before WarnerMedia's announcement on December 3.
Godzilla vs. Kong might still stream day-and-date on May 21 if Warner Bros. makes a deal with Legendary using the $200+ million Netflix price tag as a base, according to Deadline. Warner Bros. already dished out tens of millions to Wonder Woman 1984 director-producer Patty Jenkins and star-producer Gal Gadot to secure an HBO Max release for the DC Films sequel that is the first big-budget tentpole to go to the streaming service.
After the move left industry talent and their agents blindsided, the decision to send theatrically-planned titles to streaming drew sharp criticism from the studio's heavy-hitter filmmakers like Villeneuve and Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy, Tenet).
"We're living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group," Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, said in a statement announcing the hybrid distribution model. "No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do. We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021."
Sarnoff continued, "With this unique one-year plan, we can support our partners in exhibition with a steady pipeline of world-class films, while also giving moviegoers who may not have access to theaters or aren't quite ready to go back to the movies the chance to see our amazing 2021 films. We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we're extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances."
Godzilla vs. Kong is currently set for a day-and-date release in theaters and on HBO Max on May 21, 2021.